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Publication numberUS20090031026 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/878,290
Publication dateJan 29, 2009
Filing dateJul 23, 2007
Priority dateJul 23, 2007
Also published asUS7774472, US20100268824
Publication number11878290, 878290, US 2009/0031026 A1, US 2009/031026 A1, US 20090031026 A1, US 20090031026A1, US 2009031026 A1, US 2009031026A1, US-A1-20090031026, US-A1-2009031026, US2009/0031026A1, US2009/031026A1, US20090031026 A1, US20090031026A1, US2009031026 A1, US2009031026A1
InventorsRonald Martin Tanner, Matthew John Sorenson, Rick James Carlson, David Evans Lewis
Original AssigneeNovell, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System and method for cross-authoritative configuration management
US 20090031026 A1
Abstract
A system and method for cross-authoritative, user-based network configuration management is provided. Users log-in to a network using any device coupled to the network, and an identity manager may provide the user with a custom computing environment by verifying the user's identity and identifying content, assignments, and other configuration information associated with the user. For instance, the identity manager may retrieve a unique identifier assigned to the user, query one or more authoritative source domains based on the unique identifier, and deliver a computing environment assigned to the user. By seamlessly integrating multiple authoritative sources, administrators can make assignments to users across multiple authoritative source domains, and queries to the sources will always be up-to-date without having to perform synchronization processes.
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Claims(23)
1. A method for cross-authoritative, user-based network configuration management, the method comprising:
identifying a plurality of authoritative sources to be integrated, the identified authoritative sources including one or more objects for managing one or more users;
capturing unique identifiers assigned to the objects in the identified authoritative sources;
receiving a request for information contained in one or more of the objects in the authoritative sources; and
querying one or more of the authoritative sources using the unique identifier assigned to the requested object to retrieve the requested information.
2. The method of claim 1, the objects including information relating to one or more assignments and/or attributes associated with one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
3. The method of claim 2, the assignments including software, policies, group memberships, content, and/or devices associated with the one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
4. The method of claim 2, the attributes including an e-mail address, a name, a location, and/or descriptive information associated with the one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
5. The method of claim 2, wherein one or more of the user groups includes at least one user managed by a first authoritative source and at least one user managed by a second authoritative source.
6. The method of claim 1, further comprising storing the captured unique identifiers in a database.
7. The method of claim 6, further comprising updating the unique identifiers in the database when a change occurs to any of the objects in the identified authoritative sources.
8. The method of claim 6, further comprising looking up the unique identifier assigned to the requested object in the database.
9. The method of claim 1, the received request including a user log-in, the method further comprising delivering the retrieved information to a device being used by the user.
10. The method of claim 9, the delivered information including assignments associated with the user, a user group to which the user belongs, and/or a container in one or more of the authoritative sources that includes the user.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein querying the one or more of the authoritative sources includes formulating a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol query.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the objects for managing the one or more users include directory objects.
13. A system for cross-authoritative, user-based network configuration management, the system comprising:
a plurality of integrated authoritative sources, the integrated authoritative sources including one or more unique identifiers assigned to one or more objects for managing one or more users;
a database storing the unique identifiers assigned to the objects in the authoritative sources; and
an identity manager operable to:
receive a request for information contained in one or more of the objects in the authoritative sources; and
query one or more of the authoritative sources using the unique identifier assigned to the requested object to retrieve the requested information.
14. The system of claim 13, the objects including information relating to one or more assignments and/or attributes associated with one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
15. The system of claim 14, the assignments including software, policies, group memberships, content, and/or devices associated with the one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
16. The system of claim 14, the attributes including an e-mail address, a name, a location, and/or descriptive information associated with the one or more users, user groups, and/or containers of users.
17. The system of claim 14, wherein one or more of the user groups includes at least one user managed by a first authoritative source and at least one user managed by a second authoritative source.
18. The system of claim 13, the identity manager further operable to update the unique identifiers in the database when a change occurs to any of the objects in the identified authoritative sources.
19. The system of claim 13, the identity manager further operable to look up the unique identifier assigned to the requested object in the database.
20. The system of claim 13, the received request including a user log-in, the identity manager further operable to deliver the retrieved information to a device being used by the user.
21. The system of claim 20, the delivered information including assignments associated with the user, a user group to which the user belongs, and/or a container in one or more of the authoritative sources that includes the user.
22. The system of claim 13, wherein the query includes a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol query.
23. The system of claim 13, wherein the objects for managing the one or more users include directory objects.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to user-based network configuration management using a plurality of integrated authoritative sources.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Managing a network infrastructure often entails accounting for user, device, or other identities in order to control access rights (e.g., permissions or authorizations to access certain network resources), user assignments (e.g., applications or policies assigned to a user), or otherwise manage a network based on users. As such, many network implementations incorporate a form of identity management in order to simplify user management processes. For example, identity management solutions often include an authoritative source (e.g., a directory service) that identifies a network's resources, users' rights to access the resources, and application or policy assignments for specific users or devices, among other things. As a network infrastructure grows and changes, however, effective user-based management often becomes difficult, particularly when heterogeneous systems include different authoritative sources or identity management products.

For example, various groups, departments, or other classes of network users or devices may have different requirements resulting in different authoritative sources being implemented within the network. In another example, a network may be upgraded or migrated to a new authoritative source, but an administrator may prefer to manage new users with the new source and preserve a previous authoritative source for existing users. Although there can be many reasons for using multiple authoritative sources, existing systems often cannot provide seamless integration and interoperability among the various authoritative sources. For example, many existing integration efforts focus on use of synchronization modules that dredge authoritative sources, discover users, and build a searchable database. This type of system suffers from various drawbacks, including a lack of a consistent way to create identity-aware applications, while shielding programmers from underlying differences in the authoritative sources. Moreover, synchronization modules may only search authoritative sources at periodic intervals, or upon request, or in other ways that do not provide real-time integration and interoperability. As such, users requiring immediate access to resources may restricted from accessing critical resources until completion of the synchronization process, potentially causing unnecessary delays, or decreases in productivity, among other problems.

Existing systems suffer from these and other problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to various aspects of the invention, a system and method for cross-authoritative configuration management may address these and other drawbacks of existing systems. The invention may be used to manage network configurations using multiple authoritative sources, enabling full interoperability and seamless integration with any number of authoritative sources (e.g., using an identity manager having native support for the authoritative sources). As such, devices, software, policies, group memberships, or other network resources can be directly assigned to a network user based on the user's identity, regardless of where the user accesses the network, and regardless of which authoritative source or sources include the user's identity information.

According to various aspects of the invention, an identity manager may be coupled to a network, and may provide a single point of control for configuring or otherwise managing one or more users across a plurality of authoritative sources. Users may log-in to the network using any suitable device coupled to the network, and the identity manager may provide the user with a computing environment customized for the user, regardless of which device the user employs. For instance, upon the user logging in, the identity manager may verify the user's identity by retrieving a unique identifier assigned to the user. The identity manager may then query one or more authoritative source domains based on the user's unique identifier to identify a computing environment (e.g., assignments, applications, desktop configurations, policies, group memberships, content, etc.) associated with the user. Each user may be provided with their own customized computing environment, which can be tailored to specific needs of the user, a group to which the user belongs, a business role of the user, or otherwise, as will be apparent. As such, users may be free from being limited to using any specific desktop, workstation, laptop, or other device. Moreover, by directly integrating with the authoritative sources, the identity manager may provide native, full, and immediate real-time integration with any directory or other source of managed users. Whenever a change occurs in any of the authoritative sources, subsequent queries will immediately reflect the change with no need for synchronization. Further, by seamlessly integrating multiple authoritative sources, administrators can make assignments to users across multiple authoritative source domains (e.g., a group of users can include a first set of users from a first authoritative source, a second set of users from a second authoritative source, etc.).

According to various aspects of the invention, integrated authoritative sources enables real-time, identity-based management having simple service delivery and accurate user device configurations. Using this dynamic approach, desktop changes, application assignments, or other aspects of a computing environment can be recognized immediately whenever a change occurs to a network user's account, across plural authoritative sources, without limitation. As such, a network infrastructure can be implemented to manage user desktops, devices, or other computing environments based on any number of network identities, including any suitable combination of user business role, location, group membership, or other characteristics. Accordingly, applications, content, and other information technology resources can be delivered based on personal needs of each user. From a single point of control, administrators can assign applications to users, regardless of which authoritative source domain (or combination of source domains) the users reside within. Existing authoritative sources can be integrated seamlessly (e.g., via a web services architecture) without requiring any changes to source schemas. Further, the sources can be integrated without specialized directories or authoritative sources (e.g., a searchable LDAP abstraction), or synchronization of passwords or information between directories. Rather, the identity manager may store information relating to globally unique identifiers assigned to directory objects by the integrated authoritative sources. The identifiers may be used by the identity manager to formulate direct, lightweight queries to the authoritative source itself. All other information, including assignments between content, users, or devices, among other things, can be stored in the authoritative source and retrieved via the unique identifiers. For example, the identity manager can look up tables (e.g., Structured Query Language tables) to determine what content to deliver to users, which devices the users currently run, or other information, and the content can then be delivered to the appropriate place to users having proper access rights. Further, by using multiple directories or authoritative sources, assignments can be managed across multiple trees, domains, or other source configurations. For example, user groups can be created containing users from different sources (e.g., mixing users from different trees, domains, or other source configurations within a single group).

Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art based on the following drawings and detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary system for managing network configurations based on multiple authoritative sources according to various aspects of the invention.

FIGS. 2 a-b illustrates exemplary methods for establishing a single point of control over multiple authoritative sources according to various aspects of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary method for providing assignments to users and/or devices based on multiple authoritative sources according to various aspects of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an exemplary system 100 for managing network configurations based on multiple authoritative sources is illustrated according to various aspects of the invention. System 100 may be used for, among other things, directly assigning devices, software, policies, group memberships, or other network resources to a user based on an identity of the user. Further, as shown in FIG. 1, system 100 can fully interoperate and seamlessly integrate with any number of authoritative sources 130 a-n, for example, by way of an identity manager 110 including native support for the authoritative sources 130 a-n. For example, in various implementations, identity manager 110 may be Novell ZENworks® Configuration Management, and the authoritative sources 130 a-n may include Novell® eDirectory™, Microsoft Active Directory, or any other authoritative source that can be used to manage users (e.g., PeopleSoft DB, OpenLDAP, etc.).

According to various aspects of the invention, the identity manager 110 may be coupled to a network 140, and may provide a single point of control for configuring or otherwise managing one or more users. A user may log-in to the network 140 using any of a plurality of devices 150 a-n coupled to the network 140, and identity manager 110 may provide the user with a customized computing environment regardless of which device 150 the user employs to log in to the network 140. For instance, upon the user logging in, identity manager 110 may verify the user's identity by retrieving a unique identifier assigned to the user from a data repository 120. Identity manager 110 may query one or more of authoritative source domains 130 a-n based on the user's unique identifier in order to identify a computing environment (e.g., assignments, applications, desktop configurations, policies, group memberships, content, etc.), validate a user, retrieve user attributes (e.g., e-mail address, name, location, etc.), or perform other user management tasks. For example, each user may be provided with their own customized computing environment, which can be tailored to specific needs of the user, a group to which the user belongs, a business role of the user, or otherwise, as will be apparent. In another example, the user's unique identifier can be used to authenticate or otherwise validate the user by incorporating credentials provided by the user on log-in (e.g., user name, password, etc.) into a validation call that also includes the user's unique identifier, and the validation call may be passed to a directory or other authoritative source to validate the user.

As such, the user may be provided with the customized computing environment regardless of where the user logs in to the network 140, freeing users from being tethered to any specific desktop, workstation, laptop, or other device. Moreover, by directly integrating with the authoritative sources 150 a-n, identity manager 110 may provide native, full, and immediate real-time integration with any directory or other source of managed users. Thus, a user can be managed using one or more different domains, directories, or other authoritative sources (e.g., a user's assignments, attributes, etc. could be managed in an Active Directory domain, while a device being used by the user could be managed in a different authoritative source). Whenever a change occurs in any of the authoritative sources 150 a-n, subsequent queries to the changed authoritative source 150 may immediately reflect the change without having to synchronize a database. Further still, by seamlessly integrating multiple authoritative sources 150 a-n, administrators may make assignments to users across multiple authoritative source domains 150 a-n. For instance, in one example, an administrator may create a group having a first set of users managed in a first authoritative source 130 a, a second set of users managed in a second authoritative source 130 b, or otherwise. Thus, identity manager 110 provides a single point of control for administrators to control what users (or groups of users) receive which assignments based on user identities managed within plural authoritative sources 150 a-n.

Referring to FIGS. 2 a-b, an exemplary method for establishing a single point of control over multiple authoritative sources is illustrated according to various aspects of the invention. By establishing the single point of control (e.g., in an identity manager coupled to the authoritative sources), software, policies, configurations, group memberships, or other assignments can be applied to users managed under any of the authoritative sources, or across the authoritative sources, or otherwise, as will be apparent. For instance, in an operation 205, multiple authoritative sources may be integrated with an identity manager to provide the single point of control over all of the sources. When initially linking the authoritative sources, the identity manager may query the sources in operation 205 (e.g., via a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol query), and user identity information may be captured from the sources in an operation 210.

For example, an authoritative source may assign unique identifiers (e.g., globally unique identifiers) to objects (e.g., directory objects) managed in the authoritative source. As such, in an operation 215, authoritative source information may be captured by retrieving the assigned unique identifiers from the authoritative sources. The unique identifiers can relate to users, devices, content (e.g., applications or policies), or other information for entities managed by the authoritative sources. Thereafter, in an operation 220, the unique identifiers may be stored in a table and subsequently used to configure or manage a user's computing environment.

As such, network users can be managed using any suitable authoritative source or combination thereof. Administrators can therefore manage applications, policies, group assignments, or other information technology resources intended for a user, a group of users, or otherwise without having to perform user account replication or synchronization. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2 b, an administrator can manage user assignments directly in one or more authoritative sources in an operation 225. Assignments may be made in the authoritative source based on a user, a container, a group, or other configuration, as will be apparent. Once the assignment has been made, the authoritative source may generate a unique identifier for the assignment in an operation 230, and the unique identifier may be added to the source table in an operation 235. As will be apparent, assignments can include software assignments, policy assignments, group membership assignments, or other assignments. For example, an administrator could create a group to contain a plurality of users, and once the users have been added to the group in the authoritative source, the administrator can make assignments to the entire group. Moreover, the users within the group could be from any number of authoritative source domains, directory trees, or otherwise, and the assignment may be validly applied across all of the sources.

Thus, the identity manager can be linked to various user unique identifiers, as well as user groups and containers in the authoritative sources. Administrators can make assignments to individual users, groups of users, containers of users, or in other ways, and a user will receive any assignments applied to groups, containers, sub-groups or sub-containers, or other abstractions to which the user belongs. As such, whenever the identity manager requires information from a directory object in a linked authoritative source, the identity manager will query the source with an appropriate unique identifier to recover the data. For instance, as illustrated in FIG. 3, a user may log in to the identity manager from any device coupled to the network. The user's log in may be processed in an operation 305, and the user's identity, group memberships, and other identification characteristics may be verified in an operation 310. For example, the identity manager may retrieve a unique identifier assigned to the user from the source table, and one or more authoritative sources may be queried in an operation 315 based on the identifier. The user's group assignments, software assignments, desktop configurations, policy assignments, or other information technology resources may be identified by the authoritative source, and an operation 320 may then include delivering the identified assignments to any suitable device from where the user has logged in.

Employing features described herein, network administrators may easily enable real-time, identity-based management having simple service delivery and accurate user device configurations. Using this dynamic approach, desktop changes, application assignments, or other aspects of a computing environment can be recognized immediately whenever a change occurs to a network user's account, across plural authoritative sources, without limitation. As such, a network infrastructure can be implemented to manage user desktops, devices, or other computing environments based on any number of network identities, including any suitable combination of user business role, location, group membership, or other characteristics. Accordingly, applications, content, and other information technology resources can be delivered based on personal needs of each user. From a single point of control, administrators can assign applications to users, regardless of which authoritative source domain (or combination of source domains) the users reside within. Existing authoritative sources can be integrated seamlessly (e.g., via a web services architecture) without requiring any changes to the sources' schemas. Further, the sources can be integrated without requiring a specialized directory or authoritative source (e.g., a searchable LDAP abstraction) or synchronization of passwords or information between directories.

Information stored at the identity manager can be limited to the globally unique identifiers assigned to directory objects by the authoritative sources, which may be used to formulate direct, lightweight queries to the authoritative source itself. Other information, including assignments between content, users, and devices, among other things, can be stored in the authoritative sources, tables or databases associated with the identity manager, or otherwise, and the identity manager may retrieve such assignments, associations, and other information via the unique identifiers. For example, a user's rights to applications, content, or other rights can be identified by the identity manager looking up tables (e.g., Structured Query Language tables) according to a user's unique identifier to determine what content to deliver to users, which devices the users currently run, or other information, and the content can then be delivered to the appropriate place to users having proper access rights. Further, by using multiple directories or authoritative sources, assignments can be managed across multiple trees, domains, or other source configurations. User groups can be created containing users from different sources (e.g., mixing users from different trees, domains, or other source configurations within a single group). As such, by storing assignments in the identity manager rather than the authoritative sources, the identity manager can provide a single point of control for managing user-based configurations using any suitable combination of the authoritative sources.

Implementations of the invention may be made in hardware, firmware, software, or any combination thereof. The invention may also be implemented as instructions stored on a machine-readable medium, which may be read and executed by one or more processors. A machine-readable medium may include any mechanism for storing or transmitting information in a form readable by a machine (e.g., a computing device). For example, a machine-readable storage medium may include read only memory, random access memory, magnetic disk storage media, optical storage media, flash memory devices, and others, and a machine-readable transmission media may include forms of propagated signals, such as carrier waves, infrared signals, digital signals, and others. Further, firmware, software, routines, or instructions may be described in the above disclosure in terms of specific exemplary aspects and implementations of the invention, and performing certain actions. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that such descriptions are merely for convenience and that such actions in fact result from computing devices, processors, controllers, or other devices executing the firmware, software, routines, or instructions.

Aspects and implementations may be described as including a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but every aspect or implementation may not necessarily include the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Further, when a particular feature, structure, or characteristic is described in connection with an aspect or implementation, it is understood that it is within the knowledge of one skilled in the art to effect such feature, structure, or characteristic in connection with other aspects or implementations whether or not explicitly described. Thus, various changes and modifications may be made, without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The specification and drawings are to be regarded as exemplary only, and the scope of the invention is to be determined solely by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8296820 *Jan 18, 2008Oct 23, 2012International Business Machines CorporationApplying security policies to multiple systems and controlling policy propagation
US8874703 *Sep 20, 2011Oct 28, 2014Amazon Technologies, Inc.System and method of selectively implementing network configurations
Classifications
U.S. Classification709/226
International ClassificationG06F15/173
Cooperative ClassificationH04L41/0893, H04L41/0803, H04L41/0856
European ClassificationH04L41/08A, H04L41/08B2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 10, 2014FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Oct 6, 2011ASAssignment
Effective date: 20110427
Owner name: CPTN HOLDINGS, LLC, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:NOVELL, INC.;REEL/FRAME:027169/0200
Oct 2, 2011ASAssignment
Owner name: EMC CORPORATON, MASSACHUSETTS
Effective date: 20110909
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CPTN HOLDINGS LLC;REEL/FRAME:027016/0160
Jul 23, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: NOVELL, INC., UTAH
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TANNER, RONALD MARTIN;SORENSON, MATTHEW JOHN;CARLSON, RICK JAMES;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:019653/0335;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070629 TO 20070719
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TANNER, RONALD MARTIN;SORENSON, MATTHEW JOHN;CARLSON, RICK JAMES;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070629 TO 20070719;REEL/FRAME:019653/0335